Tags: Egypt Watch

U.S. Predicts: Presidents to Fall, Monarchs to Persist


The Times reports that U.S. diplomats expect Arab monarchies to weather the storm of unrest better than the faux-republics:


In the rapidly changing map that stretches from Morocco to Iran, two presidents have already tumbled:Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia. Administration officials said they believe that Yemen’s authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is in an increasingly tenuous position.

Yet in Bahrain, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has so far managed to weather a surge of unrest, winning American support, even though his security forces were brutal in their crackdown of protesters. Officials believe that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is also unlikely to be dethroned, while the emirs of the Persian Gulf have so far escaped unrest. Even in Jordan, where serious protests erupted, King Abdullah II has maneuvered deftly to stay in power, though he still has to contend with a restive Palestinianpopulation.

This pattern of kings holding on to power is influencing the administration’s response to the crisis: the United States has sent out senior diplomats in recent days to offer the monarchs reassurance and advice — even those who lead the most stifling governments. But it is keeping its distance from autocratic presidents as they fight to hold power.

By all accounts, that is more a calculation of American interests than anything else.

“What the monarchies have going for them are royal families that allow them to stand above the fray, to a certain extent,” said Kenneth M. Pollack, the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. “It allows them to sack the government without sacking themselves.”

Many of the monarchs have run governments every bit as repressive as the presidents’. And the American calculation of who is likely to hang on to power has as much to do with the religious, demographic and economic makeups of the countries as with the nature of the governments.

Arab presidents pretend to be democratically chosen, even though most of their elections are rigged. Their veneer of legitimacy vanishes when pent-up grievances in their societies explode. Most of the presidents oversee more populous countries, without the oil wealth of the gulf monarchies, which would enable them to placate their populations with tax cuts and pay raises, like the kings of Saudi Arabia and Jordan have done recently.

The Americans acknowledge that they have no choice but to support countries like Saudi Arabia, and that all of the situations could change rapidly.

A case in point is Libya, where Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi— neither a king nor a president — has been brought to the verge of collapse with dizzying speed…

“The republics — and hence, the presidents — are the most vulnerable because they’re supposed to be democracies but ultimately are not,” said an Arab diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They pretend people have a voice, but this voice doesn’t exist. With the monarchy, no one’s pretending there’s a democracy.”

What about Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, etc?


Why are these states essentially left out of the unrest spreading across the Middle East. Essentially, they’re welfare states. The citizens are cared for thanks to oil revenues while working little for themselves. From a Times report: 


There has been far less unrest in other Persian Gulf states, like the United Arab Emirates, Qatar or Kuwait — in part, experts say, because they are essentially regal welfare states, where citizens pay no taxes and are looked after by the government. In the United Arab Emirates, for example, when one citizen marries another citizen, the government helps to pay for the wedding and even to buy a home.

Even so, an administration official noted, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, recently toured less prosperous parts of the United Arab Emirates to hold town-hall-style meetings — at least a nod to democratic rule.

“The truly wealthy societies like Qatar, the U.A.E. and Kuwait have greater advantages,” said Ted Kattouf, a former United States ambassador to Syria. In many ways, he added, “the monarchies have more legitimacy than the republics.”

U.S. Has no Contact with Gaddafi


From a Times report

Unlike in the case of Egypt, where President Obama spoke by phone with Mr. Mubarakseveral times during the crisis there, neither he nor any other American official has spoken with Colonel Qaddafi since the violence erupted. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was unable to reach the foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, Mr. Crowley said, citing a technical glitch.

U.N. High Commissioner for Civil Rights Advises Intervention in Libya


The international community considers humanitarian intervention:


The world should intervene in Libya to stop the killings and bloodshed there, a senior United Nations official said Friday, as France and Britain called on the United Nations to approve an arms embargo and sanctions on Libya and NATO said it was ready to help to evacuate refugees.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said that “there’s a need for more state action and intervention for protection” of civilians. She told an emergency session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, “In brazen and continuing breach of international law, the crackdown in Libya on peaceful demonstrations is escalating alarmingly with reported mass killings, arbitrary arrests, detention and torture of prisoners.”

The French foreign minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, told French radio that “we cannot make do with speeches any more, we need to act,” while France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, visiting Turkey, has asked the United Nations Security Council to meet on Friday in special session to discuss Libya and the efforts of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi to hold on to power. He called on Mr. Qaddafi to resign.

The United States, France and other Western powers are trying to remove Libya from the 47-member Human Rights Council, which would require approval by two-thirds of the General Assembly.

The United Nations Security Council will discuss a proposal backed by France and Britain for sanctions against Libyan leaders, including a possible arms embargo and financial sanctions. No definitive action was expected until next week, and sanctions are unlikely to have any quick impact.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, has said the bloc should consider an arms embargo, travel restrictions and an asset freeze against Libya to try to halt the violence. Britain and Switzerland have frozen Colonel Qaddafi’s assets. But Ms. Ashton said she would wait for the Security Council’s decisions in order to coordinate any actions.

A “no-fly zone” over Libya, as some have suggested to prevent the use of military aircraft against demonstrators, would require a Security Council resolution first, diplomats said.

There was also discussion of bringing a case against Colonel Qaddafi and others in the International Criminal Court. The British prime minister, David Cameron, addressed Colonel Qaddafi in comments to reporters, saying, “The world is watching you, the world will hold you to account. International justice has a long reach and a long memory.”

The Scene from Baghdad


Tahrir Square is Still Flooded


The Western media may have turned away, but the Egyptian people seem convinced there is more to be done in Cairo. They haven’t left Tahrir square. From Sharon Otterman and J. David Goodman: 


In Cairo, tens of thousands of Egyptians flooded Tahrir Square as much to renew the spirit of Egypt’s popular revolution, which resulted in Mr. Mubarak’s resignation on Feb. 11, as to press for new demands. The square felt like a carnival, filled with banners in Egypt’s national colors of black, white and red. Vendors sold cheese and bean sandwiches and popcorn, a man fried liver on a portable grill, and others sold revolutionary souvenirs, like miniature flags, stuffed animals, and stickers for sale.

The utopian spirit of the revolution, which had included people from all aspects of Egyptian society, was still evident, as secular leftists, members of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, and women wearing full Islamic veils with children on their arms circulated through the crowd. Ismael Abdul Latif, 27, a writer, chatted with the religious women, only their eyes showing, as they drew revolutionary posters.

“I never dreamed in my wildest dreams that we would be talking to a munaqaba”— as women in full veils are called — “in Tahrir Square,” he said. “A secular artist is having a political debate with a fully veiled lady and having a meaningful conversation. What’s the world coming to?”

But there were also signs of tension, as well as reminder that it was the military that ultimately remains in charge. Several hours into the demonstration, an army officer demanded that protesters dismantle the tents they were erecting in the center of the square, touching off a series of angry arguments.

There were fervent political demands as well, foremost among them, the resignation of the cabinet that Mr. Mubarak had appointed before his downfall, as well as the dismantling of the security apparatus, the release of prisoners still held under Egypt’s repressive emergency laws, and the prosecution of former leaders guilty of corruption.

George Ishaq, one of the founders of Kifaya, an early protest movement here, led chants through speakers, saying, “Our demand today is a presidential council in which civilians will take part. We want it to be one politician one judge, and one representative of the armed forces.”

“We are not leaving, he’s leaving,” the crowd chanted, referring this time to Ahmed Shafiq, the prime minister, with the slogan that had foretold Mr. Mubarak’s fall. “Mubarak left the palace, but Shafiq still governs Egypt.”

Times: Hundreds of Thousands Turn Out in Middle East


A nice wrap here


In Iraq, demonstrations for better government services spiraled out of control in many places. Protesters burned buildings and security forces fired on crowds in Baghdad, Mosul, Ramadi and in Salahuddin Province, north of the capital, killing at least four people.

Large-scale demonstrations in Yemen appeared to proceed more peacefully, even festively. More than 100,000 people poured into the streets on Friday, after Yemen’s embattled president pledged on Wednesday not to crack down on protesters.

In Egypt, tens of thousands of people returned to Tahrir Square in central Cairo to celebrate one full month since the start of the popular revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

In Bahrain, pro-democracy demonstrations on a scale that appeared to dwarf the largest ever seen in the tiny Persian Gulf nation blocked miles of downtown roads and highways in Manama, the capital, on Friday. The crowds overflowed from Pearl Square in the center of the city for the second time in a week.

On Friday for the first time, it was the country’s Shiite religious leaders, rather than the political opposition, who called for people to take to the streets.

In Bahrain, a Sunni monarch rules over a mostly Shiite population that says it has long faced discrimination in employment and other areas, and the protests in recent weeks have drawn mostly Shiites to the streets. Although some of the chants and symbols Friday had a religious cast, protesters’ demands remained the same — emphasizing a nonsectarian call for democracy and the downfall of the government.

300 Americans and Others Successfully Evacuated


… from Tripoli. The United States chartered a ferry to Tripoli and asked all Americans to get on board. The ferry had arrived two days ago, but been unable to depart because of high seas. It has now successfully and safely done so. 


The ferry departed from Tripoli just after 6:30 a.m. Eastern time on Friday, early afternoon local time, and was expected to reach Valletta within eight hours.

Philip J. Crowley, a State Department spokesman, said at least 167 Americans were on board the ship. The State Department has said 40 members of the United States Embassy as well as family members were among the passengers.

It was not immediately clear if all the Embassy staff had been evacuated or just nonessential personnel.

The stalled evacuation had led the Obama administration to temper its condemnations of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s government, with officials worrying that the Libyan government could take American diplomats hostage.

The State Department said roughly 6,000 American citizens, most of them holding dual citizenship, were in Libya when the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi began. Mr. Crowley has said that he believed that those holding dual citizenship would need Libyan government permission to depart.

In addition to the ferry evacuation, the United States Embassy said on its Web site that it was chartering a flight from Tripoli for Friday; an earlier effort to fly Americans out of Libya had been frustrated on Wednesday when a plane chartered by the United States was denied permission to land.

The State Department Thursday said 285 people were on the ferry, but on Friday it said the number jumped above 300 and that more people had been let on before departure.

Around Libya, frantic operations to evacuate foreigners from the widening chaos continued Friday, and European officials were already looking toward the next challenge: coping with what could be a huge influx of refugees from across the Mediterranean.

More than 10,000 people crowded into Tripoli’s main airport on Thursday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

Libya’s Chief Prosecutor Resigns


… in protest against Gaddafi’s orders to shoot on protesters. This the latest of many high-profile defections.

Gunfire, Death in Tripoli


There were reports of heavy gunfire, and at least 5 deaths this morning in Tripoli. Here’s a video from a safe distance:

Over at the Times blog, the Lede, there are some truly horrifying videos showing the wounded.

First video from Benghazi


Astonishing video from what purports to be the first video crew to reach the demonstrations in Benghazi has just been posted on CNN:

Yemeni Leaders Order Police Protection


… for the demonstrators. Who knows how sincere this is. But it’s a heartening sign in the wake of several attacks on protesters in the last week:

From Laura Kasinof:


After an escalation in violence between supporters and opponents of the Yemeni government in Sana, the capital, this week, President Ali Abdullah Saleh has instructed security forces to protect demonstrators and thwart clashes between the two sides.

“The directive demanded security services to offer full protection for the demonstrators. Furthermore, the government calls on protesters to remain vigilant and take all precautionary steps to prevent the infiltrations of individuals seeking to carry out violent actions,” Mr. Saleh said in a statement late Wednesday.

“The Government of the Republic of Yemen will continue to protect the rights of its citizens to assemble peacefully and their right to freedom of expression,” he said.

On Tuesday night, two anti-government protesters were shot dead by government supporters during a sit-in in front of Sana University. At least 10 others were injured by gunfire.

In Aden, Yemen’s southern port city where protests are routinely more volatile, at least 12 protesters have been killed in the past two weeks, according to Human Rights Watch.


Algeria Lifts State of Emergency


… after 19 years. Another preemptive concession

ALGIERS : Algeria on Thursday lifted its state of emergency, 19 years after it was imposed, according to a decree published in the official gazette.President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has “ordered the cancellation of the extension of the emergency measure put in place by presidential decree on February 9, 1992,” said a statement published on the state newspaper.His cabinet on Tuesday said the move was imminent after it adopted a draft order repealing the emergency measures, which the government adopted when Islamists waged a protracted guerrilla war following the cancellation of local election results in 1991.Those results would have given a majority to the now-dissolved Islamic Salvation Front.Bouteflika pledged three weeks ago to lift the state of emergency as demanded by the opposition following unprecedented protests last month that left five people dead and more than 800 injured.The state of emergency gave free rein to security forces that effectively served to repress political freedom.The 1990s war turned into a bloodbath, killing up to 200,000 people, according to official figures.

Why Libya Could See Civil War


I refer you to two articles, one from Slate, and one from the New York Times, both of which highlight the anarchy that could ensue once Gaddafi is out. Essentially, Gaddafi has spent his career promoting tribal factionalism among different sectors of the Libyan military in order to prevent an organized and unified military coup against him (i.e. to prevent others from doing to him what he did to gain power in 1969).

From Kareen Fahim: 


But amid spreading rebellion and growing defections by top officials, diplomats and segments of the regular army, Colonel Qaddafi’s preparations for a defense of Tripoli also reframed the question of who might still be enforcing his rule. It is a puzzle that military analysts say reflects the singular character of the society he has shaped — half tribal, half police state — for the past 41 years.

“It is all shadow and mirrors and probably a great deal of corruption as well,” said Paul Sullivan, a professor at Georgetown who has studied the Libyan military.

Colonel Qaddafi, who took power in a military coup, has always kept the Libyan military too weak and divided to do the same thing to him. About half its relatively small 50,000-member army is made up of poorly trained and unreliable conscripts, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Many of its battalions are organized along tribal lines, ensuring their loyalty to their own clan rather than to top military commanders — a pattern evident in the defection of portions of the army to help protesters take the eastern city of Benghazi.

Colonel Qaddafi’s own clan dominates the air force and the upper level of army officers, and they are believed to have remained loyal to him, in part because his clan has the most to lose from his ouster.

Other clans, like the large Warfalla tribe, have complained that they have been shut out of the top ranks, Professor Sullivan noted, which may help explain why they were among the first to turn on Colonel Qaddafi.

Untrusting of his officers, Colonel Qaddafi built up an elaborate paramilitary force — accompanied by special segments of the regular army that report primarily to his family. It is designed to check the army and in part to subdue his own population. At the top of that structure is his roughly 3,000-member revolutionary guard corps, which mainly guards him personally.

Then there are the militia units controlled by Colonel Qaddafi’s seven sons. A cable from the United States Embassy in Libya released by WikiLeaks described his son Khamis’s private battalion as the best equipped in the Libyan Army.

His brother Sa’ad has reportedly used his private battalion to help him secure business deals. And a third brother, Muatassim, is Colonel Qaddafi’s national security adviser. In 2008 he asked for $2.8 billion to pay for a battalion of his own, to keep up with his brothers.

But perhaps the most significant force that Colonel Qaddafi has deployed against the current insurrection is one believed to consist of about 2,500 mercenaries from countries like Chad, Sudan and Niger that he calls his Islamic Pan African Brigade.

And from Daniel Byman:


The very factors that make Egypt look so promising make Libya look more frightening. Qaddafi, unfortunately, may still win, either by rallying his loyalists in the security forces and military or by importing enough mercenaries to overcome the disorganized opposition in a brutal city-by-city campaign of terror. Some reports put the death toll in Libya at more than 1,000—and, remember, Libya’s population is less than one-tenth the size of Egypt’s—and the violence shows no sign of subsiding.

But if Qaddafi loses, Libya’s future may still prove chaotic. It would be hard to have a worse ruler than Qaddafi, but that doesn’t mean Libya’s next leader will be just or that the country can avoid additional strife. Libyans, unlike Egypt’s citizens, do not have thousands of years of national identity to keep them together—tribal ties remain important and inhibit a strong national identity. Key cities like Benghazi and Tripoli are far apart with different historical experiences.

Nor is there any coherence to the opposition. Different tribes, military units, and former regime loyalists have all declared themselves “for the people,” but no one truly speaks for the ordinary Libyans who are risking their lives to end the tyranny they have known for more than 40 years. For now, they are unified in fighting Qaddafi, but whether they can coordinate their activities to prevail, and whether they can keep coordinating should he go, is an open question.

Unlike in Egypt, “the army” is not a coherent institution. Qaddafi took care to politicize the military and divide its commanders in order to prevent a coup or other challenges to his rule. Moreover, the army was involved in interventions, such as a disastrous war in Chad, that tarnished its credibility—its battlefield record is not a source of pride. So the military is less able to lead the country out of the mess.

Nor is there a bureaucratic structure that can simply resume basic government functions under new leaders. Qaddafi created one of the world’s most bizarre governments, with “people’s committees” playing important roles at the local level. Indeed, Qaddafi himself did not hold a government position in any formal sense, even though he was clearly recognized as “the leader.” This personalized and politicized system is part of what Libyans hate; it should not survive its creator. But removing Qaddafi’s regime demands more than just change at the top.

Civil wars also further radicalize all involved. When blood is shed, the rules change. The Libyan regime is already committing many atrocities, such as firing on crowds and sending its loyalists into hospitals to kill wounded demonstrators. The opposition, in turn, will not be gentle with captured security forces, mercenaries, or others deemed culpable in killing their comrades. Purges are likely no matter who wins.

Shifting Sands in Saudi Arabia?


After the King enacted economic reforms seen by many as preemptive concessions, now a group of influential scholars, thinkers, and activists, is publicly demanding more democratic reform. 


They said in a statement Thursday that Arab rulers should derive a lesson from the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and listen to the voice of disenchanted young people. The group includes renowned Islamic scholars, a female academic, a poet and a former diplomat.

The call for change came after Saudi Arabia’s 86-year-old ruler announced an unprecedented economic aid package, including interest-free home loans. The package, estimated at 135 billion Saudi riyals ($36 billion), was seen as an attempt to get ahead of potential unrest.

A wave of unrest has swept across the already unsettled Arab world in recent weeks.

Gaddafi Blames Al Qaeda, Drugs


Earlier today, Muammar Gaddafi made a bizarre, unexpected phone call to Libyan State TV. Here’s the video:


Anti-Gaddafi Protesters Extend Control


The LA Times has summed up the territory Libyan protesters have secured. If this report is accurate, it looks like Gaddafi is running out of time. 

The popular uprising against Moammar Kadafi expanded into an oil-rich area of western Libya long considered one of his strongholds, leaving the long-time leader increasingly isolated and in danger of encirclement as he fights for survival.

Calm was returning to a stretch of eastern Libya seized by the opposition. Residents were restoring basic services in the country’s second-largest city, Benghazi, and setting up informal governing structures.

“The uprising is over. Eastern Libya has all fallen from Kadafi’s power,” said Ashraf Sadaga, who helps oversee a mosque in the coastal city of Derna. At a rally there, one young man held a sign addressing Kadafi: “The people have dug your grave,” it said.

But reports painted a grim picture of western Libya. Terrified residents of the capital, Tripoli, said pro-government militias rampaged through some residential areas, firing automatic weapons from pickup trucks and Land Cruisers.

Crowds fought loyalists in Sabratha, about 40 miles west of Tripoli. The opposition also claimed control of Zuwarah, about 30 miles from the Tunisian border in the west, after local army units sided with the protesters and police fled.

Kadafi’s traditional backing from powerful tribal leaders also is starting to unravel, analysts said, marking a potential turning point. Key among them is the Warfallah tribe, one of Libya’s largest, which is based south of Tripoli. It announced it was joining the movement to oust him.

Residents of Tripoli said the government sent out cellphone text messages urging people to go back to work, insisting life was returning to normal. But protesters reportedly also used texts to urge police, members of the army and others to march on Friday.

Professor Juan Cole offers some edifying commentary on this report. 

Arc of Instability Wrap


I can do better than the New York Times on this one:


LIBYA With Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s support within the military appearing to splinter, the embattled leader called on thousands of mercenary and irregular security forces to defend his bastion in Tripoli, as the rebellion crept closer to the capital.

EGYPT About 1,000 police officers protesting a decision to dismiss them at the Interior Ministry’s complex set a building on fire with gasoline bombs and threw rocks after soldiers fired into the air, Egyptian security officials said.

YEMEN Seven lawmakers who belong to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s governing Congress Party resigned and said they would form their own independent bloc, The Associated Press reported. In addition, thousands of people streamed into a square in Sana, the capital, trying to bolster anti-government protesters.

SAUDI ARABIA The government of King Abdullah announced an initiative that would provide Saudis with interest-free home loans, unemployment assistance and sweeping debt forgiveness. The total cost of the program, apparently intended to offset unrest, was estimated to be $36 billion.

BAHRAIN King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa ordered the release of more than 300 prisoners, including 23 Shiites who had been accused of trying to topple the king, Reuters reported. The release was a concession to the mainly Shiite protesters who have been demanding a constitutional monarchy. In addition, the king met with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh.

IRAN Press TV, Iran’s state-financed satellite channel, reported that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had criticized Colonel Qaddafi of Libya for threatening his own citizens. Mr. Ahmadinejad spoke of universal human rights and said that leaders should hear the voice of their people.

IRAQ Senior Shiite religious leaders called for Iraqis to refrain from more protests, which led many members of the country’s Shiite majority to say they would not join in demonstrations scheduled for Friday. In addition, a police officer in Halabja, in Kurdistan, was shot and killed in a confrontation with protesters.

WEST BANK A Palestinian youth organization, Sharek, held a news conference in Ramallah to call for an end to the schism between Fatah, the secular faction that controls the West Bank, and Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza.

Gaddafi’s Speech from Tuesday


It went on for over an hour, so I won’t post a transcript. But Al Jazeera has compiled the highlights on video:

Transcript of President Obama’s Libya Speech



Grand Foyer, 5:07 P.M. EST:

Good afternoon, everybody. Secretary Clinton and I just concluded a meeting that focused on the ongoing situation in Libya. Over the last few days, my national security team has been working around the clock to monitor the situation there and to coordinate with our international partners about a way forward.

First, we are doing everything we can to protect American citizens. That is my highest priority. In Libya, we’ve urged our people to leave the country and the State Department is assisting those in need of support. Meanwhile, I think all Americans should give thanks to the heroic work that’s being done by our foreign service officers and the men and women serving in our embassies and consulates around the world. They represent the very best of our country and its values.

Now, throughout this period of unrest and upheaval across the region the United States has maintained a set of core principles which guide our approach. These principles apply to the situation in Libya. As I said last week, we strongly condemn the use of violence in Libya.

The American people extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all who’ve been killed and injured. The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable. So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya. These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. This violence must stop.

The United States also strongly supports the universal rights of the Libyan people. That includes the rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and the ability of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. They are not negotiable. They must be respected in every country. And they cannot be denied through violence or suppression.

In a volatile situation like this one, it is imperative that the nations and peoples of the world speak with one voice, and that has been our focus. Yesterday a unanimous U.N. Security Council sent a clear message that it condemns the violence in Libya, supports accountability for the perpetrators, and stands with the Libyan people.

This same message, by the way, has been delivered by the European Union, the Arab League, the African Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and many individual nations. North and south, east and west, voices are being raised together to oppose suppression and support the rights of the Libyan people.

I’ve also asked my administration to prepare the full range of options that we have to respond to this crisis. This includes those actions we may take and those we will coordinate with our allies and partners, or those that we’ll carry out through multilateral institutions.

Like all governments, the Libyan government has a responsibility to refrain from violence, to allow humanitarian assistance to reach those in need, and to respect the rights of its people. It must be held accountable for its failure to meet those responsibilities, and face the cost of continued violations of human rights.

This is not simply a concern of the United States. The entire world is watching, and we will coordinate our assistance and accountability measures with the international community. To that end, Secretary Clinton and I have asked Bill Burns, our Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, to make several stops in Europe and the region to intensify our consultations with allies and partners about the situation in Libya.

I’ve also asked Secretary Clinton to travel to Geneva on Monday, where a number of foreign ministers will convene for a session of the Human Rights Council. There she’ll hold consultations with her counterparts on events throughout the region and continue to ensure that we join with the international community to speak with one voice to the government and the people of Libya.

And even as we are focused on the urgent situation in Libya, let me just say that our efforts continue to address the events taking place elsewhere, including how the international community can most effectively support the peaceful transition to democracy in both Tunisia and in Egypt.

So let me be clear. The change that is taking place across the region is being driven by the people of the region. This change doesn’t represent the work of the United States or any foreign power. It represents the aspirations of people who are seeking a better life.

As one Libyan said, “We just want to be able to live like human beings.” We just want to be able to live like human beings. It is the most basic of aspirations that is driving this change. And throughout this time of transition, the United States will continue to stand up for freedom, stand up for justice, and stand up for the dignity of all people.

Thank you very much.


Subscribe to National Review